Ever wonder what it’s like for a college baseball player who will be chosen as a number one draft pick for the MLB? There is no mistake that these players have exceptional talent, but the 2009 draft, the media, and fans might have taken these college players into the show before their name is even called in June.
The draft pick that seems to be on everyone’s list as the first name to be called and the most promising is San Diego State’s (No. 21 in the country) Stephen Strasburg. The 6’5” junior right hander has a fastball of 102mph and an 80mph change-up. He was the first college pitcher to be elected to play for the U.S. Olympic Team and pitched against Cuba and the Netherlands. The pitcher is without a doubt the number one draft pick and is getting the public’s attention. Strasburg’s coach Tony Gwynn commented to USA Today saying Strasburg’s publicity has “been a strain. He’s only 20, and the guy can’t even get a burger. The guy can’t sit in the library.
He’s got collectors hanging outside the ballpark, trying to get his autograph so they can put it on eBay. People are building him up to be this messiah, but in this game they love to build you up, just so they can tear you down. Can’t we just let him enjoy his junior year here before everyone gets their piece of him?”
Gwynn, the Hall of Famer, has a point. The fame and the glory do not last forever. Strasburg should be proud of his 17.5 strikeouts per game, his 6-0 record, and his 1.49 ERA, but when he leaves San Diego those numbers are not likely to stay the same against hitters like David Ortiz, Derek Jeter, and Evan Longoria. According to the past 13 pitchers who were picked number one in the MLB draft only one had an ERA under 3.9 (David Price,
Tampa Bay Rays, 2007 pick) and only 3 won more than 100 games. Brien Taylor, the number one pick in 1991 for the New York Yankees, did not even play a game. These players are getting a taste of fame and are hearing about offers from the pros talking about millions of dollars for their signing bonuses, but these players have to keep it in prospective. Baseball is the hardest sport to make it. Some players get stuck in the minors for years never getting the call up. Others get hurt and never get the chance to show what they have to the world.
College is a time to enjoy your time left when the love of the game is what drives you rather than your salary and the fans who want to see you play can actually see you in a crowd of 2,000 people rather than a crowd of 50,000.
Strasburg should enjoy his last months playing with his teammates and playing for a small crowd because in just a few short months his entire world will change. The fans will be fewer, his teammates will be older and he will not be the number one pitcher in the league. Hopefully Strasburg and the other number one picks can anticipate that their professional careers may not mirror their collegiate careers. But what these players do know is that hard work and talent can pay off, maybe for these players it can pay off big with a successful and long career in the majors.